A Church of Scotland minister, the Rev Iain Whyte, announced on 22 July that he is to bless a gay ‘marriage’ in the Phoenix Bar in Edinburgh. Very few gay couples have received a blessing from a Church of Scotland minister and although the church has no official ceremony for a gay blessing, ministers have the ‘freedom in pastoral matters’ to carry one out.
The Rev Iain Whyte is a chaplain with the Edinburgh Community Mental Health Chaplaincy. He admits that many members of the Church of Scotland will not be happy with his actions but has defended his decision to officiate at the blessing. “I am here to serve the spiritual needs of people as they come up. Chaplains don’t need permission from the presbytery to carry out what I see as a pastoral task. We have a greater degree of freedom than ministers who also answer to their congregation.”
Former Royal Scots serviceman, Robert Wicksted, who is suffering from leukaemia, wants to celebrate the blessing with his partner of 18 months, Alex Valentine, a former computer designer for IBM. Doctors have told Mr Wicksted that he many only have one year to live. Mr Wicksted served in the Royal Scots regiment until he was diagnosed with cancer four years’ ago and was forced to retire because of his medical condition.
Mr Wicksted told a Scottish newspaper: “I knew Alex as a friend for about nine years before we started a relationship. We became a couple after my former partner passed away. We both want this blessing, which will have vows and an exchange of rings. I also want Alex to be taken care of financially after I have gone. My will is already made out.”